Day 2 – Moonlight Bay

Day 2 – Moonlight Bay

Friday, October 14, 2011

Rocky Bottom Bay, MI to Moonlight Bay, Door County, Wisconsin

(see accompanying Photo Blog for Day 2)

Last night we came in having no idea of the area surrounding us. We knew only that the bottom of this bay was practically a sheet rock. This morning we were greeted with calmish winds, pretty sand dunes and swans. The sky was still well overcast though and forebode of more wind and rain.

By 7:30 AM we were all breakfasted. Engineer Terry checked the oil and the motor was started. The plan was to motor off the anchor and raise the staysail and main, then motor sail south on towards Chicago.

It was a few minutes later that the motor stopped.

“Where is that Engineer?”

Hugh turned the helm over to Mike and Bill and went below to consult with Terry.

A fuel leak was immediately found upon inspection and the hose was changed. But that did not do the trick; the motor refused to start when asked. For some reason there was no fuel being delivered. Fortunately we had plenty of wind and was able to sail south easily making 5 to 6 knots.

Since I was not on watch, I decided to go below and get caught up on my sleep. I usually look at the back of my eyelids for 8 hours. The last few nights gave me only 5 hours of sleep. We have a long journey ahead and I wanted to make sure I stay well rested; especially considering I’m trying to get over a cold that has a lingering and annoying cough.

After about an hour of post-nasal drip encouraged coughing I took some cold medicine to hopefully help stop the cough so I could rest. Rest escaped me when the waves got bigger and the rolling started making me a bit nauseous. An almost empty stomach was made ookey by the post-nasal drip. Ookey was made into yucky by the diesel fumes from the cookstove. Shortly I was rushing to the head, making it; almost. Just as I got the lid up my tea came up also.

After wiping up my mess in the head, I donned my foul-weather gear. Before I could get up on deck, I was grabbing a bowl from the galley to dredge the last few drops of anything out of my stomach. Yuck! Whew! Now, I felt better!

If I had any more time prior to watch change I’d be spending it on deck, but it was 11 AM, time for watch change anyway. Terry was still trouble-shooting the motor, trying to figure out the fuel supply problem. I relieved Mike and Bill at the helm while Terry kept working below. The weather had not changed, we still had winds of 25+, 4 to 6 foot waves and intermittent rain, but it was easy steady sailing.

Last night I decided hot stew for lunch would probably be a good way to warm up on a day that promised to be cold and wet. Since stew is always better the next day, I started some lentil barley and veggie stew to cook while we ate dinner. This morning I put it back on the hot stove to keep simmering and brewing. When we did watch change I told the guys to help themselves when ever they wanted.

Terry determined that we had plenty of fuel in both the starboard and port tanks, but they couldn’t figure out why none was getting to the motor. He tightened down everything that could be possibly causing an air leak. When he got to the Racors (where the fuel filter is held), which had recently been changed, he found they were only partially filled with fuel — they were only full to the top of the clear container. Where the solid white container was on the upper two thirds section, it was air only. Mike was happy to help and learn as Terry bled the whole system and got the Racors filled back up.

Mike poked his head out from below, “Julie, try starting the motor.”

No luck, so they worked on it a bit more.

“Give it another try.”

This time she started right up.

“Great. Go ahead and shut her off.” Mike then went back down.

So I turned the key off and pressed the black shutdown button.

Terry and Mike continued to work below, now there was an electrical problem. The tachometer, fuel gauge, oil pressure gauge and voltage meter were not working.

Hugh came on deck to inspect the situation.

It was decided to keep the motor running, so they could troubleshoot the electrics.

“I’m guessing I might have bumped a wire loose when we bled the system.” Terry said.

“Are you doing okay?” Terry asked me, referring to my having been at the helm for the last hour and a half all by myself.

“I’m fine, thanks.” I was enjoying the challenge of driving in big weather. I’d sailed with Hugh our sailboat, Gypsy M, this summer in the Georgian Bay in some big weather. Because I had had to work her main sheet and steer with the tiller it was more difficult than the driving that I was doing now.

Below they went to continue trying to figure out what our electrical problem was.

Captain’s orders were to stay as close to shore as possible, taking advantage of any lee the land would give us, from the high winds. Since we had the motor running again we motor sailed at almost full power. Hugh had said he’d come back in a bit, after I passed a channel marker to help me sheet in the main so I could get closer in.

A little while later Terry popped his head up from the aft hatch and asked me to throttle down a little to not put a lot of strain on the motor. Not thirty seconds later, Hugh stuck his head out of the fore hatch asking if I had throttled down or if we had motor problems again.

“Terry told me to,” I shouted and gestured. He then disappeared below.

About half an hour later, I had passed the channel marker and the wind shifted more westerly and grew significantly stronger. To keep her steady and from heeling over too much  I had to steer more southerly than we wanted. I needed to sheet in the main, but I couldn’t do it by myself. No one was in earshot and the wind was noisy. Even though the aft hatch was open a crack it was useless to try to yell down to the guys working below. So I blew the horn.

I thought that would get some attention. But no one came up.

I blew it again a couple of times, so they knew I hadn’t accidentally brushed my leg up against it (it is located on the “dog house,” where you can sit to steer.)


It would really be nice if someone came to check on me. I was doing okay, but the wind shift to the west out of northwest and being close to 40 knots meant I needed to sheet in the main if we were going to head west close to shore at all. I laid on the horn.

No response.

Okay no response to the horn. Maybe since the guys are working on the motor I can get their attention if I really ease back on the throttle.

Sure enough, that got Mike sticking his head up again.

“I need help with the main.”

With the main hauled in closer, I was able to readjust my course and take us further towards shore. The open lake was not somewhere we wanted to be.

Close to the end of our four hour watch, Terry came up to the helm. He had had enough mechanicing for the time.

With the troublesome electronics and being close to 3 PM, Hugh decided to not push it and that we’d find a decent harbor for the night sooner rather than later so we could work on the electronics with some day light left.

We were nearing North Bay and Cana Island Lighthouse. Years ago, I was on a photography trip to Door County. We happened to go to Cana Island Lighthouse to photograph it. It was neat to now see it from a true sailor’s perspective. Along its shore and on the walkway around the tower, people watched us pass by. Just south of Cana Island was Moonlight Bay and around the bend was Bailey’s Harbor. Somewhere close by we’d tuck in for the night.

Just at watch change time we pulled into Moonlight Bay. I really wanted to go to Bailey’s Harbor, as that is another place I had photographed on my Door County trip. I have a beautiful photograph of sunrise at 5 AM. But, we weren’t going there this trip. We struck the sails; Moonlight Bay would be home for the night.

As we pulled in a concerned citizen radioed us to let us know that the bay got fairly shallow. Hugh thanked him. We easily dropped anchor and got it set in a fairly protected spot on the south end of the bay.

“Let’s keep the motor running while we figure out this electrical problem.” Hugh said.

Terry, Hugh and Mike continued to check and recheck wires, contacts and switches. Hugh did something in the cockpit to cause Terry and Mike to be excited.

“What ever you just did, that was it!” Mike shouted up to Hugh. A big sigh of relief was let out, the problem had been identified.

“It was the ignition switch — it was off.”

I was in the galley and overheard this.

“I think I know what happened — earlier when we were under way and sailing Mike asked me to start the motor and then turn it off. I turned the key off and pressed the black shutdown button. But I couldn’t hear the motor even when it was running. It must have not shut down the motor and Mike and Terry were okay with that and didn’t tell me it never was turned off. So the key got turned off but the motor never did, which meant the electronics weren’t registering…”

It was now about 4 PM. Motor and electrical troubles were solved and we weren’t dragging anchor even though the winds were still coming out of the west at 25+ knots. It would be a relaxing evening.

There was much talk about the various Appledores that had been built and where different ones were now. And many stories about each person’s own boats and various trips they have been on. Counting row boats, canoes, jon boats and sail boats, Mike won the prize for having the most: 15; followed by Hugh’s eight.

“Starting tonight, they are predicting 35 knot going to 40 or 45 from the West.” Hugh said. “Depending upon what the morning reveals, we’ll probably set the staysail and reef the main and sail towards Chicago, possibly with the motor and go as far as we can.”

About juliemckaycovert

I am a therapist, teacher, photographer and published author. I am a lover of life and nature. My husband, Hugh, and I live off the grid on a remote 40 acre island, Shelter Island, just off of Drummond Island in the far eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This blog is about my life, a life I thought I'd never be able to live. This blog is about dreams and ideals being manifested. It is about daily events with a backwoods twist. It is about the simple pleasures and wonders being brought forth. I invite you to be inspired and even, as some friends have, live vicariously through my words.
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